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The Science of Evil Audiobook

The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty

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Audible Editor Reviews

Famed British psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen has spent the last 25 years publishing his research on theories of mind, consistently demonstrating that he is one of the most experimental and cutting-edge specialists in the field of cognition. The Science of Evil, published abroad as Zero Degrees of Empathy, brings together several strands of Baron-Cohen's work into a unified theory of human cruelty that describes empathy as a brain-based and therefore scientifically accessible phenomenon. East Sussex actor Jonathan Crowley does a superb job of conveying how groundbreaking and interesting Baron-Cohen's premise truly is. A frequent voice worker and recent winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award, Crowley is no stranger to the invigorating possibilities of scientific non-fiction narration. The psychologist makes it easy on him, with clear writing that explains cognition in everyday terms and with a view toward the practical applications of his theory.

Essentially, there are three diagnoses that have a lack of empathy in common: borderline personality disorder, narcissism, and psychosis. Each of these mental states is missing either the ability to recognize the feelings or others, or the ability to respond to those feelings, or both. This is Baron-Cohen's fundamental argument about the cause of human cruelty. Cruelty is only possible given a lack of empathy, and he devotes a chapter to each of these diagnoses. He devotes additional chapters to autism, the subject around which the majority of Baron-Cohen's research has long orbited. Because autistics are highly systematizing thinkers, they generally develop strong moral rules and a sense of injustice that is not premised upon having empathy, which is a characteristic they lack.

Crowley's lively rendering of the case studies for each type of person having zero degrees of empathy is deeply engrossing. Listeners will be shocked to recognize bits and pieces of their own less than understanding moments embedded in the anecdotal evidence provided here. The book concludes with a hint of the larger implications for a complete study of empathy as a brain-based behavior. Crowley delivers Baron-Cohen's final plea with all the earnest optimism it deserves: if we could use science to isolate the biological sources of empathy, we could eliminate cruelty, and voila -- world peace. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

Borderline personality disorder, autism, narcissism, psychosis, Asperger's: All of these syndromes have one thing in common---lack of empathy. In some cases, this absence can be dangerous, but in others it can simply mean a different way of seeing the world. In The Science of Evil, Simon Baron-Cohen, an award-winning British researcher who has investigated psychology and autism for decades, develops a new brain-based theory of human cruelty. A true psychologist, however, he examines social and environmental factors that can erode empathy, including neglect and abuse. Based largely on Baron-Cohen's own research, The Science of Evil will change the way we understand and treat human cruelty.

©2011 Simon Baron-Cohen (P)2011 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Baron-Cohen's professorial background shines through in the book's tone and in step-by-step, engaging prose urging both academic and lay reader alike to journey with him in scientific inquiry." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Pawel Olaszek 05-16-17
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    "Very interesting"

    It is an interesting topic for every one interest in human nature. BTW authors brother is the creator of Ali G and Borat .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Leslie Denver, Colombia 02-14-17
    Leslie Denver, Colombia 02-14-17 Member Since 2017
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    "The Science of Empathy"

    I was pleasantly surprised to find that the title, though provocative, is a bit misleading. However the science and research presented in this book paints an adequate and level headed perspective to why empathy sits upon a spectrum which we can choose to turn on or off with greater or less difficulty depending upon our location to that spectrum. overall worth listening to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Holly Moore 02-02-17
    Holly Moore 02-02-17 Member Since 2016
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    "So true"

    wish there was info about those Involved in gangs and those youth involved in this culture.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Speech pancake Pittsburgh, PA 07-10-16
    Speech pancake Pittsburgh, PA 07-10-16 Member Since 2017
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    "narrow focus"

    Jonathan Crowley does a nice job once again making non-fiction engaging and nice to listen to. There was not much to the premise of the book. The author meant to differentiate personality disorders from autistic disorders from typical people, by focusing on differences in empathy. I did not find his approach/hypothesis was successful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer 05-20-16
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    "Prefect for interest in psychology or empathy"

    Loved it, so interesting and a really valuable way to rethink the whole idea of evil.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George Karoutsos 02-26-16 Member Since 2012
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    "Possibly the best book I've ever read/heard...?"

    Learned so much about myself & others from this informative work. Thank you, Simon Baron-Cohen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kate 01-31-16
    Kate 01-31-16
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    "Powerful Information!"

    A must book when trying to understanding where evil comes from. Very insightful. Powerful message about empathy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dayyoung Hoover, AL, United States 07-06-15
    dayyoung Hoover, AL, United States 07-06-15 Member Since 2016
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    "Great read"

    Good read very informative. The book covers lots of origin. Giving great examples from the brains perspective.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Teresa Conca 07-02-15
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    "A perspective that is original"
    Would you listen to The Science of Evil again? Why?

    The science is amazing; his conclusion definitely opens up the topic to debate even if you don't agree but it will make a reader think deeply about the motivations behind human action


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Mackey Atlanta, GA 05-16-15
    L. Mackey Atlanta, GA 05-16-15 Member Since 2014

    retroatl

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    "Amazing!"

    Insightful and informative! I liked it so much that I'm immediately starting it again. I have been wanting to read this for years. Fascinating!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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